In CS Releases & Articles

By Coptic Solidarity –

The minor Coptic girl Abigail Magdy Zakaria, 17 (born in May 2005), “disappeared” on Sunday Aug. 7, hours after she left home early to attend the 7:30 Sunday mass. Her phone was later found to be switched off.

She lives in Saraqna village, Qusseyah, Assiut governorate, and studies at a commercial secondary school.

As Abigail could not be found anywhere, the family reported her disappearance to the police, and a report was made, under “556 Qusseyah 07/08.” The “National Security Agency” was informed, but did not give any indication of pursuing the issue..

The youngest of four children, she lived alone with her parents. She has two married sisters and a brother who works in a Red Sea town. Her father, 60, owns a small grocery shop.

According to Mina Eid, a neighbor and family friend, the family is quite perplexed, as their daughter never showed any signs of what could have caused her disappearance. For the time-being they have only some guesses as to who could have lured their child away.

As usual in such cases, the family is broken in tears and beg the authorities to help find their child. Friends and family assist the search for her and try to mobilize the opinion on social media.

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Disappearance of Coptic girls, a rampant phenomenon in Egypt over the past three decades, that qualifies under international law as “human trafficking,” has become worse in recent years. Typically, organized Islamic groups target certain girls to lure and convert them to Islam. The police and state security agency often turn a blind eye to such crimes and may even help whisk the victim to Al-Azhar’s conversion office to complete the official conversion certificate in record time. In the rare cases where a girl is returned to her family, the culprits are never held accountable. In other words, the supposedly law-preserving authorities act as implicit, if not explicit, partner in such heinous crimes.

Needless to say, minor persons (under 18) cannot, by law, take such actions as converting, without the approval of their parents or custodian. But laws are made to be broken by those who have the power to do!

And of course, it is not a matter of freedom (“what’s wrong with a Coptic girl falling in love with a Muslim man or converting to Islam?”) as the rare opposite cases (a Muslim girl dating a Christian man) almost always lead to riots by Muslim mobs and massive attacks on innocent Copts.

In 1863, khedive Ismail established a system whereby if a (major) Coptic person desired to convert to Islam, the state authorities had to summon a priest and several (prominent) Copts to discuss with the person in question, and ultimately have him/her sign a statement confirming the intent to convert with own free will. Such “advisory sessions” remained in force until they were cancelled in 2004 by the then-minister of Interior. Numerous calls ever since to re-establish the process fell on deaf ears.

Ironically, the Church leaders from all denominations, who wouldn’t miss a chance to heap praise on president el-Sisi, rarely lift a finger to defend their children or condemn such blatant crimes.

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